Monday, February 12, 2018

Review: Naamah's Blessing by Jacqueline Carey

Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey
Published: Gollancz (2011)
Series: Book 9 of Kushiel’s Legacy (final novel)

Beware of spoilers for previous books in the series below!

The Book:

“After resolving their relationship troubles, Moirin and Bao have returned from Asia to Terre d’Ange.  Together, they face the aftermath of the situation Moirin left behind.  Her beloved queen has died in childbirth, leaving behind a daughter who is desperate for affection from a father who is in despair. Moirin vows to protect the happiness of the young princess, but she has little political power as an outsider to the court.  

The one person who could protect the girl’s interests, her older half-brother and heir to the throne, is missing and presumed dead on an expedition to the New World. It is clear where her destiny now leads, to a dangerous and unknown land. Moirin and her small band of loyal companions will journey to the New World, to search for the ill-fated expedition and hopefully return the heir alive.” ~Allie

With this review, I close out my reading of the Kushiel’s Legacy series by Jacqueline Carey.  It was a lot of fun to join in the read-along, and I thank Susan of Dab of Darkness for putting all of this together.  Our spoiler-filled discussions can be found here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

My Thoughts:

As usual with this series, this final novel again explores new lands and new cultures.  However, this time she also spends a significant amount of time in Terre d’Ange, dealing with everything that has happened since she left for Ch’in.  As much as I enjoy seeing new cultures, I really love Terre d’Ange (fantasy-France), so I was delighted to see the story was going to bring us back there. In terms of new lands, Moirin travels to the New World and encounters several different civilizations there.  I felt that Moirin was pretty respectful of the ways of life she sees in the different societies she passes through.  However, human sacrifice plays a large role in the depiction of the religions of the New World, and I’m not sure I’m very comfortable with how that side of the story ultimately played out. I think that's mostly because I'm not comfortable with the idea of human sacrifice in general.      
I’ve complained before about Moirin’s passivity in following her predestined path, but I felt like that was less of an issue in this final novel.  She does still consult her diadh-anam, but I didn’t feel like it led her contrary to what she would have decided without its influence. Her mystical pair-bonding with Bao is also less of an issue, since they’ve now also consciously chosen to be married and joined for life.  They feel more like a naturally happy couple, now that neither of them are fighting their destiny.  Moirin is also still a channel for divine influence, and often allows other forces to act through her. I thought it felt more like a deliberate choice this time, though, rather than just being used by her divine sources.  

As a conclusion to the trilogy, I liked how Naamah’s Blessing tied together the events in the beginning of the story with the person Moirin has become in the course of her journeys.  I don’t think nearly as much time has passed in Moirin’s trilogy as in the previous two, but she packs a lot of adventures and changes in a few years.  When she and Bao return to Terre d’Ange from Asia, it is quite a contrast to her debut as a naive young girl straight from an Alban cave.  The final novel also nicely addresses lingering arcs from the beginning of her story, such as her misadventures with Raphael and her guilt over leaving Jehanne before her child was born.  It was a satisfying conclusion to her story, though I am sad to have to now leave Terre d’Ange behind as a reader.

My Rating: 3/5

Naamah’s Blessing brings the story of Moirin to a close, and also marks the end of the larger three-trilogy series of Kushiel’s Legacy. In the end, my favorite trilogy is still Phedre’s, and I would still love to read more stories of her adventures.  Moirin’s story takes place in a different (later) time, with more overt magic and direct divine influence.  I had some issues with Moirin’s passivity in following her predestined path, and with the magical influence that directed her romantic life.  All the same, she has plenty of exciting adventures (and misadventures), and I generally enjoyed following along to see where her path would lead her.  It’s sad to leave Terre d’Ange behind, but I doubt this will be the last I’ll read of Jacqueline Carey’s work.

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